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Why are Wistar Rats used in Research

Why are Winstar Rats used in Research

Why are Wistar Rats used in Research? Wistar rats are strains of albino rats. They are laboratory rats that are bred and kept for scientific research. They are characterized by long ears, a wide head, and a tail length less than their body size.

Why are Wistar Rats Used in Research?

There are many reasons why researchers used Wistar rats for research.

  • Wistar rat is small, and they are easily adaptable to new surroundings.
  • These rats have shorter life spans, usually two to three years. So multiple generations are studied during their short span of life.
  • They are very easy to take care of during research. They are smart and friendly than other rats.
  • They are biologically and genetically the same as a human in many processes.
  • Wistar rats reproduce quickly; they give birth too many children during a short span of life.
  • They can be obtained in large quantities of commercial procedures.
  • Wistar rats have evolved themselves with humans; they eat equivalent food as humans.
Why are Wistar Rats used in Research 1
Why are Wistar Rats used in Research

History of Wistar Rat Developement

In early History Rats were only Pest. They were used in earlier times for sport. Rat catchers would catch the pest and sell them for Food or Sport.

The Sport was called ” Rat Baiting “ it involved putting Rats in a sunken Pit. An enclosed aera that the rats could not escape. They were surrounded by spectators. Like our Boxing Matches, World Championship Wrestling. Drawing large crowds. The same arenas were used for Dog Fights, Cock Fights and Rat Baiting. It truly was a Blood Sport.

It was very popular in London, and london is said to have over 70 ” Rat Rings”. They had a Refree and a Time keeper. To see which Dog could kill the most Rats. In london at the time was a Rat Catcher – That supplied the Rats.

The crowds took bets on long it would take a dog to kill the Rats. Many times they had two dogs and they would which one would kill the most Rats. The Dogs wer Many times “Rat Terriers”. Today the Sport of Rat Baiting is illegal in most Countries.

Some of the Most famous Rat Baiting Dogs were

  • Billy – Terrier Held World Record in April of 1823 of 100 rats Killed in 5 .5 Minutes
  • Jacko – Black + Brown Terrier – Another Record in May 1862 – 2 seconds faster than Jacko
  • Tiny the Wonder – could kill 200 Rts in an Hour
  • Jack – black + Brown Terier in New York City – Killed 100 Rats in 5 Minutes 40 Seconds
  • In 1868 Animal Cruelty Prevention Law was Passed and it was became a crime.
  • All of the Rats used were Brown rats that were caught or Raised. Albino Rats were seperated and only used in rat Shows.

The Wistar Institute in 1906 ( Pennsylvania) developed the Wistar rat breed. The main objective of developing this breed was to use them in medical and biological research.

  • Breed was standardizes so test could be done on their nervous systems
  • Albino Rats
  • Began Breeding for Labratory test
  • So Sucessful – Breed is still Being Used todsy
  • Inter Breeding Does not have negative Effect on Rats
  • Inbreeding can be done up to 300 Generations without Genetic Changes
  • Many of Human Diseases are also Diseases that affect Rats
  • Especially cancer, Autism, and Parkinson Disease.

They were considered a model organism in 1906 when scientists used the house mouse in their research. Wister rats are currently the most popular rats in laboratory research.

The Long – Evans and Sprague Dawley rats were developed from Wistar rats. They are more active than any other breed of the rat.

History of Wister Rat for Labratory Test

Today Mice have passed the Rats in Being used in Labratories today. Animals used in Research Rats are used in 25% of all animals. Some of the important Diseases That nWinstar Rats are Used in Research are

  • They Share 90% of same Human Genes
  • Cancer
  • Kidney Diseases
  • AlHeimerzers
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Heart Failure
  • Blood Diseases
  • Immune Diseases
  • High Blood Pressure Diseases
Why are Wistar Rats used in Research 2
Why are Wistar Rats used in Research

How Fast do Winstar Rats Breed

Rats Breed at an Amazing pace. That makes them very attractve for Research. Rats have a Lifespan of Approximately 2 Years of age. Heres is a Breeding Table for Rat Populations.

Breed of RatsLifespanGestation Baby Rats per Litter/Yr
Rat Pups
Rats Per YearAverage Cost Highest Cost
Winstar2 years21 - 24 days121,250$ 20$ 455

If Rats are not controlled and are left to their own They can Reproduce Expodentially. From one Pair

482,508,800 descendants in just three years

Feeding requirements of Wistar rats

The amounts of nutrients necessary to continue maximum growth in young rats are different from the amounts necessary to maintain tissue concentrations or enzyme activities.

The rats’ diet depends on their age and size. The ingredients of the rat’s diet are soybean meal, ground corn, fishmeal, molasses, wheat grain, and ground oats.

Some minerals are also mixed in the diet, such as monocalcium phosphate, dicalcium phosphate, calcium carbonate, and choline chloride.

Some essential vitamins present in the diet of Wistar rats are vitamin A, vitamin K, biotin, and vitamin B12.

What Types Feed for Wistar rats

The different types of feeds available for Wistar rats are given below.

  • Standard feed
  • Custom feed
  • Certified feed
  • Irradiated feed 

Food is commonly given in feeders. The feeders should be large enough to hold two to three days of a rat diet supply. Try to organize the feeders in such a way that the rats do not contaminate the food with feces.

Provide plenty of clean, fresh water for rats at all times. Large Wistar rats can eat 30 grams of food per day, while other small rats can eat 15 grams of food per day.

How to Raise a Wistar Rat?

Here are some steps you should follow to raise a rat

Rat carrier

Buy a perfect rat carrier before picking up your rat. These rat carriers are widely available at pet stores. Choose a carrier with smaller spaces.

Before placing your rats in the carrier, add a piece of cucumber to avoid dehydration. Never buy a cardboard carrier because it is not safe.

How to Determine Sex of Winstar Rats

After collecting a rat, make an appointment with your vet to determine the sex of your rat. It is easy to determine the sex of rats at the age of about 5 weeks because males have very obvious genitalia.

It is difficult to determine the sex of the rat younger than 5 weeks because their testicles have not yet descended.

Separation on the Basis of Sex Winstar Rats

Try to separate rats on the basis of their gender. Put the female in one cage and males in the other one. Unless you separate your young rats, you run a high risk of caring for a lot more rats than you bargained for.

How to Increase the Interaction of Wistar rats

Place the Wistar rat cage in the occupied room. Place the cage higher at eye level to encourage human-rat interaction. Some rats like to rest in nesting boxes, but try to refrain from using nesting boxes while the rats are small. This will increase their interaction and bond with humans.

Feeding Winstar Rats

You should feed in the container, in which all feed is mixed so they won’t pick out their favorite parts and leave the rest. Feed your rat with small amounts of fresh fruits and vegetables.

You can also feed your table scrapings to your rat; this will make a good treat. Don’t overfeed your rat, this will cause obesity. Obesity is the cause of many health problems for rats.

Handling Winstar Rats

If your rat appears to be shy, handle them every day. Give time to your rat to play in a room having hiding places or in a playpen.

When your rats get older, you can let him out in a room with furniture, but always protect your power cable. Don’t allow your rats to hide under the sofa because they will take a lot of time to come out.

Cleaning of cage

Always clean the rat cage once or twice a week. While cleaning the cage, leave your rat in the playpen or carrier, remove nest boxes, toys, and food bowls, discard all dirty bedding, and wipe the cage with a damp cloth.

You can also use dishwashing liquid or vinegar spray and water to clean the cage. Dry the cage with paper towels and add new bedding before replacing rats and accessories. Use paper bedding, not sawdust or wood shavings.

Command training

Train your rat to come close to you when you call. This trick will come in handy when your rat gets older and when you give them more freedom.

Train your rat with a high-pitched sound just before feeding it, like a particular whistle. Also, make the sound before providing a gift. Almost all rats will learn to run every time they hear this sound.

Major Place to Purchase Winstar Lab Rats

Charles River is a Major Supplier of Winstar Rats.

  • Charles River – Need to request Quote
  • Envigo – Prices in Bulk $ 22 – $ 175 ( Pregnant Female) See There Pricing Table

Some of the other People Raise rats for are these

  • Pet Rats – $ 10 – $ 25
  • Pet Stores
  • Snake Food
  • Labratory Rats
Rat Farming / Breeding


Wistar rat are used in research for different purposes. The animals are used in research for a long time. The first animal used in the research was in the Greek 2nd and 4th centuries. Some animals are slaughtered after being used in experiments. Some are a breed of purpose, and some are wild animals.